Author Topic: The Oympic medallist Wales never had  (Read 3674 times)

Offline Alan

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The Oympic medallist Wales never had
« on: August 21, 2012, 01:31:04 PM »
From Wales OnLine 19th August 2012
She may have been wearing the Canadian shirt, and she is a patriotic Canadian team member, but Olympian Rhian Wilkinson was equally inspired by the Welsh flags that flew for her as she scooped her bronze medal.

Although born in Canada, she still has her British passport.  Wilkinson grew up in Canada but also spent a few years living in Cowbridge, Glamorgan, where she attended Bont Faen Primary School from 1989-91.  And on the way to the quarter finals, her Canadian team beat Team GB, who didn't have a single Welsh girl in their squad.  

Rooting for her at the 2012 Games were her parents - mother Shan Evans from Llantwit Major, and father, former professional Rugby player, Keith Wilkinson - brother David, sister Sara and family members from all over Wales.  "What was wonderful was seeing my family in the crowd and both the Canadian and Welsh flag flying", she said.  "Spending time at Bont Faen meant I made many friends and got to know the area well", she said.  "It's where my mum grew up, so I certainly feel that Wales is a second home.  With so many relatives here, there is a huge affinity".  

As a child she visited Wales with her parents every summer and her grandparents headed from Wales to Canada each Christmas.  "We are a very close family so I try to make time to visit.  I often come back to Cowbridge where my grandfather David Evans is in a nursing home, so I like to get back to visit as often as I can and stay with my great aunt, Molly Ranger", she said.

Wilkinson, 30, said the historic day in Coventry - where Canada won its first Olympic medal in women's football with a last-gasp 1-0 win over France - was like a dream.  "I started playing soccer at five years old, and I have been fortunate to play for, and against, some of the world's best teams and players; but winning a medal at the Olympics was just perfect," she said.

Before flying back to her home in Norway, she said she was planning a visit with her cousins.  "There is so much to celebrate here at the moment and I feel so proud to be able to celebrate with my Welsh family, who have all been so supportive."  She said she hoped her role as a female footballer would inspire Welsh girls to pick up the mantle and take up sports.  "In Canada women in sport seems to be a much more natural thing so when I attended Bont Faen I came already wanting to play sport so started playing with the boys' football team," she said.  "I hope such a strong female success in the Olympics will create a vital legacy."  

She said her own success was hard to take in.  "I don't think I've taken it all in yet. It's just so nice to be here in Wales with my family and enjoying this quiet time before I return home where things will get a little more hectic."  The win represented Canada's first medal in a traditional summer team sport since a silver medal in basketball at the Berlin 1936 Games.

She said she hoped Welsh fans would support and be inspired by her.  "As women's soccer continues to grow, many young women have set their sights on the game at the highest level.  My website provides regular news, not just about Canadian soccer matches, but insights into what it means to be a woman player," she said.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 01:45:38 PM by Alan »
Alltid. Uansett.